Know Modal Verbs of Probability Present

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Cinderella May Find Her Prince

Modal Verbs are Verbs of probability. They express a guess at outcomes. Modal Verbs include:

“must, might, may, could” and “can’t”

For example: 

“Cinderella may find her prince.” 

Is a guess at the likelihood of Cinderella, the mistreated stepdaughter, meeting and marrying Prince Charming. 

The Modal Verb “may” expresses a greater degree of certainty than “might,” although neither are quantified into exact numbers. 

Alternatively, someone may say:

“Cinderella might find her prince.” 

Or

“Cinderella could find her prince.” 

which expresses little belief in a positive outcome. 

And finally, you may hear someone say:

“Cinderella can’t find her prince.”

This means that there’s no likelihood of her meeting and marrying Prince Charming. 

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A bit of Grammar

Are there any rules I should be aware of when using Modal Verbs?

Beware, “can” + “be” is never used to talk of probability. For example, it’s not correct to say that: 

“The jack can be in the box.” 

for our purposes. 

This isn’t the case of a Modal Verb and doesn’t speak of probability, it speaks of ability. Whether or not the “jack” can be in the box is more about size than likelihood. 

And saying that:

“Cinderella can find her prince” 

speaks of her ability. You may ask yourself, does Cinderella have the means of locating the prince? Has he enabled location sharing on his phone? 

Examples of Modal Verbs

Lenny must be very hungry now that he didn’t eat breakfast. 

She might be late for the meeting as she’s still on the phone with the client. 

We may be the last team to complete the task. 

Let’s practice 

Q1: Try making your own sentence.

Q2: What may be a good place to visit during the summer? Why? 

Q3: In your opinion, what could be a good way to learn a new language? Explain.

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